Saturday, January 29, 2011

MINE Teenage Forum

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Novella: Personal Demons by Temi Ojo (Chapter 1)

IT WAS A hot afternoon and Dupe was the only one in the hostel. As the Senior Prefect Girl, she had a room to herself. She had just returned from school and was terribly exhausted. As she lay down on her bed to rest, images started flashing through her head, she closed her eyes, but she could see them clearly. Her hands went to her pillow, but she held herself and the struggle began. She tried hard to win this battle in her mind. She stood up and paced around her room, but her eyes kept going to her pillow. Suddenly, her body started to feel the sensations, she started to give in to the sensations and even though her heart was crying out to God for help, her hand finally found her pillow and that was it, she had lost the battle.

“HELLO!” CAME THE sweet voice behind Dupe. She looked back to see Chioma. Chioma was her classmate; they were both in SS3 in their school; Balm of Gilead Secondary School. It was a boarding house located in the heart of Oyo State. She had spent five years in the school and was in her sixth year and she had never had regrets. She and Chioma were best friends and they did most things together.
“Hi” Dupe responded
“What are you doing here all alone?” Chioma asked
“Dupe, you can’t tell me that! You are alone in the school garden, staring into thin air” Chioma said
“Chic, I am fine, really!” Dupe replied smiling.
Truthfully, Dupe was not fine. She was thinking about what had happened to her earlier that afternoon. She was wondering why she did not think of leaving the room when the images started flashing in her head. She had masturbated again and was feeling so guilty. She had to come into the garden to cry and ask God to have mercy on her, a practice that had become regular for the past two years.
“Come on Dupe! Cheer up! Whatever it is that is bugging you. It’s almost time for fellowship” Chioma said pleadingly.
Now, that was her greatest fear, she was the choir leader for the fellowship and she knew she would have to lead the praise and worship session that afternoon. How was she supposed to do that when she had just finished doing something that completely turns God off?
“Go on without me Chioma, please. I promise to be with you soon.” Dupe replied.
“Alright dear, if you insist, but please, do not be long, you know we are to lead praise and worship”
Chioma had just echoed Dupe’s thoughts and that only increased her heart beat. Chioma left her in the garden unsatisfied. As soon as Chioma was out of sight, Dupe went on her knees and begged God to have mercy on her and not take His presence away from her. As she prayed, tears rolled down her chicks. She did not attempt to clean them, she needed God to see them.

CHIOMA LOOKED BACK and saw Dupe on her knees. She could not help being jealous. She longed to have the kind of relationship Dupe had with God. She had become Dupe’s friend because she was popular and a lot of people seemed to like her a lot. Dupe was the Senior Prefect ‘Girl, Choir Leader in the fellowship, the best student in her class, a very good Christian and a very beautiful girl. A lot of guys flocked around her, teachers loved her, and everything about her just seemed so perfect. On the other hand, Chioma struggled in her relationship with God, she struggled in her studies, she was not an executive and so many things looked wrong in her life compared to Dupe’s. She thought that once she became Dupe’s friend, things would get better in her life, but as it were, things were not. The pangs of jealousy gripped her as she made her way to the fellowship hall.

MERCIFULLY, THE PRAISE and Worship went well that day, but the guilt had not left Dupe. As the speaker for that night picked up the microphone, the first thing he did was to praise her.
“We thank God for the life of our choir leader, Sis Dupe. God has been using her mightily in our fellowship. Each time she sings, the glory of the Lord is sure to come down”, the speaker said.
To make matters worse, those words came from Tunde, the President of the fellowship, a guy she greatly admired. Dupe felt like sinking into the ground, but she just smiled on her seat and her conscience whispered to her. If only he knew who you are and what you did this afternoon. Dupe could not wait to leave the fellowship and be back in her room where she could be alone to grieve, but something in the message caught her attention. Pastor Tunde was speaking on Temptations and how to overcome them. It was not the topic that hit her; it was the scripture he quoted. “There is no temptation that will come to you that you cannot overcome. For God will make a way of escape”. That passage brought peace to her soul. After the fellowship, she greeted all those that came around her and eventually found Chioma.
“Dupsy! I believe you are feeling much better ‘cause I can see that you are smiling chin to chin” Chioma said.
“Thank God, my friend. Sorry about the cold way I treated you this afternoon; and you backed me up so well during the praise and worship, thanks”. Dupe replied.
“No problem, what are we friends for”
Chioma felt a pang of jealousy again; she would always remain a backup and would never measure up to Dupe in anything. She chided herself for that thought and smiled at Dupe. Just then, Pastor Tunde came by. He was tall, chocolate in colour and every young girl’s dream including Chioma’s. She looked at him longingly as he approached them.
“Hello girls” he greeted.
“Good evening Pastor Tunde” They both echoed.
His smile was so dashing, Chioma could scarcely take her eyes off him, but he took his eyes off her and made them rest on Dupe.
“Dupe, that was a lovely ministration today and I meant every word I said on the pulpit”
“Pastor Tunde, lets give all the glory to God. After all, what do we have that we have not been given?” Dupe asked rhetorically.
Pastor Tunde smiled again and soon he and Dupe were engrossed in a conversation about a Worship Concert he had in mind for the fellowship. Chioma was soon forgotten and that hurt her deeply.
“Dupe, please meet me in the hostel” she said.
“Please wait for me now! I will soon be through with Pastor Tunde” Dupe replied.
Chioma had no choice than to wait. Soon they were through and they were on their way to the hostel.
“Na wa o! Dupe, I envy you o!”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“Didn’t you notice how Pastor Tunde was looking at you today?”
“How?” Dupe asked, curious.
“With those luvy duvy eyes of course” Chioma said pushing her slightly
“Chioma, that is not true, Pastor Tunde was just being himself, of course, you and I know that he looks into people’s eyes whenever he is talking to them”.
“No Dupe, the look he gave you was different”.
“Ah! Chioma, abeg, you know Pastor Tunde likes Temi more”. Temi was the Vice President of the fellowship, she and Pastor Tunde were usually seen together most of the time. She was a tall, slim and pretty girl, equally in SS3 but she did not match half the qualities of Dupe. Dupe was prettier and more intelligent.
“Abeg Dupe, stop pretending as if you do not like him” Chioma argued. “Besides… anyway, forget sha!”
“Chi, I like him, but, you know… never mind, please let’s change the topic”.
When the girls got to the hostel, it was time for lunch. They hurriedly refreshed their makeup and Dupe went about her duty sending students out of the hostel. As she did this, she kept meditating on the scriptures Pastor Tunde had spoken about and surprisingly, what Chioma said came to her mind again and she actually started pondering on it.
What if Pastor Tunde actually likes me? She banished the thought as quickly as it came.

THE STUDENTS SAT down after the general prayer to feast on the Eba and Egusi Soup they were served. This was one of the best parts of Balm of Gilead Secondary School, the food was always delicious.
Prefects had a separate table to eat, most of the time. Dupe hardly sat on the table to eat because she coordinated the students, ensuring orderliness in the dining hall, but today, she felt like seating down on the table to eat. Besides, she was not the prefect on duty. As she was eating, she noticed a girl across her table; the girl was picking at her food and was barely eating anything. She had seen the girl around; she was an SS1 student and was in Peace house. Dupe made a mental note to talk with her after lunch.

CHIOMA WAS ON her table eating; the jealousy she had felt had suddenly grown into deep hatred and bitterness towards Dupe. This greatly surprised her and scared her too. As a Christian, she knew she was not supposed to let such feelings overpower her. For a few seconds, she felt remorse but the jealousy had eaten deep into her heart and she started nurturing evil thoughts in her mind towards Dupe. She started thinking of ways to hurt her best friend. A wicked smile played on her lips as Dupe stood up to give the announcement.
“As you all know, today is Friday; there will be fatigue immediately after lunch”
Students started to murmur as they did not enjoy fatigue; it entailed a lot of cutting of grass, cleaning and plenty of stress. Dupe continued unperturbed.
“There will also be inspection tomorrow; all the prefects are to remember that they are to coordinate the fatigue in their various hostels” Dupe concluded.
With that, she told everyone to clear their tables and return all pots and plates to the kitchen. After a few minutes, she asked everyone to stand up for prayers.
After lunch, Dupe went round all the hostels to ensure that they were all doing fatigue before she retired to her room. Her room was like a small cubicle with a bed, a bedside table, where she arranged her books, and a chair. Against the wall was a wardrobe for her cloths, cosmetics and provisions. The room was not so big, but it was comfy enough.
She pealed off her school uniform and changed into something comfortable, then she picked up her bible and opened to 1Corinthians 10:13; the scripture Pastor Tunde had preached on. The words brought her a lot of comfort. She went on her knees and thanked God for the timely message. She went on to beg God to prepare her for the next battle because she knew it would come.

PASTOR TUNDE HAD just returned from lunch and was quite tired. He had enjoyed his meal and thought of taking a nap. He was not a prefect and so shared a room with other guys. He did not mind as it allowed him have a close relationship with the boys around him which was good for him as the president of the school fellowship. As an SS3 student, he was immune to the fatigue Dupe had announced earlier at the dining hall, but he knew the head boy would go round to ensure that fatigue was going on and would also expect to see SS3 students helping the prefects in their various hostels. So, Tunde said a quick prayer, thanking God for his meal and the fellowship, and then he stood up and sent all the juniors in the hostel out for fatigue. Just then, Tope, the house Prefect came in.
“Pastor, thanks a lot o!” Tope said
“No problem jare, I just felt you would need help” Tunde responded
“Thanks again” Tope said and turned away.
Then he took over and gave all the juniors portions to cut. Somehow, Tunde felt good that he was not a prefect. He went back to his bed and lay down to have some rest and ponder on all that had happened that afternoon. Thoughts of Dupe sipped into his mind literarily and he allowed the thoughts to linger for a while. He admired her; how she managed to handle being the choir leader, senior prefect, and still top her class, amazed him. He remembered what happened to him a few years back, an event that changed his life and the decision he made about girls and women generally that day. Surprisingly, thoughts of Dupe still lingered…and then, he drifted into a deep sleep.

PASTOR TUNDE WAS on his way to class to read when he saw people laughing and jeering at somebody. He moved closer and chased all the students away and as the crowd decreased, he saw a girl on her knees with her head bowed and her hands covering her face, crying. He moved closer.
“Hello, why are you crying?”
The girl lifted her head and it was Dupe. He immediately took her hand and raised her up. Dupe clung to him crying. Tunde led her to a place to seat and when they were both seated, he asked her for what happened. Just then, as Dupe was about to open her mouth to speak, another mob of students gathered round and started jeering at both of them, specifically at Dupe. Before Tunde could say anything, Dupe stood up and ran away, covering her face and crying. He called out to her but she just kept running.

Novella: Personal Demons by Temi Ojo (Chapter 2)

TUNDE WOKE UP startled; he was glad that it was a dream. He got up from his bed and went on his knees; he prayed for Dupe and put her in the hands of God. He prayed against the spirit of shame in her life. Then he asked God for direction on what he should do next. He knew he had to talk to Dupe and warn her, there was great urgency in his spirit. He decided to wait until when they would be returning from night prep as that day was a Friday and there would be class fatigue after night prep which had become a custom in Balm of Gilead Secondary School ever since Elder Mrs. Giftie Ayobami became the Principal of the school.
Students were expected to clean up their classes arrange their lockers. After the cleaning and when every student was in the hostel, the Principal would go round to inspect the classrooms and lockers and then on Monday morning, she would announce the neatest class and the neatest locker owner, a reward was always attached to it. The dirtiest class and most untidy locker also got their punishment.
Tunde prayed for wisdom, picked up his bible and began to study. He could not shake off the urgency in his spirit and still struggled to hold on to his resolve about the female species he had formed years ago.

DUPE WOKE UP and stretched on her bed. She had dozed off while praying. She looked at her wrist watch and what she saw made her jump. It was 6:30pm and she needed to be at the dining hall for 7:00pm. She ran to the bathroom, had a quick shower, hurriedly dressed up and as she was finishing her make up, the bell rang. Just as she opened her door, she saw Chioma standing there about to knock her head which was supposed to be the door if she had not opened it.
“What on earth have you been doing in there all day?” Chioma asked with a frown. “I came by your room several times and kept knocking, I was almost worried”
“I am so sorry, I dozed off while I was praying” Dupe replied
“When did you become such a heavy dozer?” Chioma asked
“Never mind my dear; I must have been so tired. Let’s hurry for dinner before we are late” replied Dupe locking her door.
They both entered the dining hall and went to their tables. Dupe was not on duty that day, so she could seat on the table comfortably. Some of the other prefects were already seated by the time she got to the table. In Balm of Gilead, there were several prefects and they made up the student representative body. They were the eyes of the authorities among the students; ensuring students did not break the rules.
Dupe looked across the dining hall as the head boy who was the prefect on duty tried to calm the students and make them settle down for dinner, she was glad she wasn’t in his shoes as they could be so noisy and annoying. Just then, she spotted the SS1 girl she had seen that afternoon staring at her. At first, she was surprised, and then she signaled to the girl to come. Her eyes followed the girl as she came closer. Then she took the girl’s hand and led her outside the dining hall.
“Good evening Senior Dupe” the girl said rather shyly
“Good evening, how are you?” Dupe replied.
“Fine, thank you”
“What is your name?” Dupe asked
“You are in SS1 right?”
“You are in Peace house right?”
“Yes” Vivian replied.
“Alright then,” Dupe started, “I want you to come to my room after class fatigue toady, before lights out ok! I want us to have a little chit chat, okay?”
“No problem” Vivian replied with a shy smile.
Dupe sent her back into the dining hall and lingered outside for a while. She did not know why, but she felt so drawn to Vivian. She said a silent prayer and entered the dining hall.
Meal times in Balm of Gilead were always full of surprises, as there was no time table for food; they just sprang up surprise delicacies. This time, the students were served Jollof Rice with chicken and a cup of tea each. The students were obviously happy.
After dinner, everyone left with smiles on their faces for night prep. The junior students were so delighted, it was written all over their faces. The senior students on the other hand curtailed their excitement as it was believed that as a senior student, there are some certain things you should not show in public as it would be embarrassing and ‘de-reping’ as they referred to it. A senior student once showed over excitement over a meal of Eba and Ogbono soup and ever since that day, he had been tagged ‘Eba man’.
Dupe and Chioma, in respect to that norm whispered their excitement over dinner as they walked to class for prep. “That dinner was the bomb” Chioma said
“You can say that again girl” Dupe replied
“I wonder what will happen tomorrow morning” Chioma said “Maybe we will have chicken and chips” She added.
“In your wildest dreams my dear” Dupe replied laughing.
Chioma changed the topic to something entirely different. She had been looking for something to use to get to Dupe. She was still bent on setting the all too good Dupe up.
“I wonder who our newest couple will be tonight”
“That should not be a problem my dear Chioma! You will know after class fatigue tonight” Dupe replied.
Dupe was so careful with her words and this annoyed Chioma. Dupe always chose her words carefully and she almost never made a slip. Chioma was silent till they reached the SS3 class block.

FRIDAY NIGHTS WERE usually special in Balm of Gilead as new couples emerged on Friday nights and people were always on the lookout for any boy and girl that would walk to the hostel together after the class fatigue. This made Tunde very nervous when he thought of what he had to do that night. Again, as the president of the fellowship, he wondered what people would think. Just then, he spotted Dupe and Chioma coming, he put his fears aside and approached them.
“Hi ladies” he said, smiling. “I believe you enjoyed your meal tonight.”
“Yes” the girls chorused.
Then almost as if he could not wait to say it, he turned to Dupe. “Can I walk you to the hostel tonight? I have something very important to discuss with you”
Dupe was shocked; she looked at Chioma who mirrored her own look. She looked back at Tunde, waiting for an explanation, but he offered none.
“Please, can’t it wait?” Dupe asked with a pleading tone “Why tonight?”
“Dupe, it is very important, it cannot wait” Tunde said. He was beginning to look nervous. “Enjoy your prep”, he said and walked away quickly before he had a chance to change his mind.
“Why are you looking at me like that?” Dupe asked Chioma.
“How?” Chioma asked. “Are you not the one Pastor Tunde just finished talking to? What did I tell you this afternoon after fellowship?”
“Please Chioma, don’t start that topic now! I believe whatever he has to say is about fellowship matters ok!” Dupe said turning away and walking towards her class.
“Whatever” Chioma retorted “Time will tell” Then she followed Dupe into the class.
Dupe could not concentrate on the quadratic equation she was trying to solve, she kept imagining what Pastor Tunde wanted to discuss with her.
Why on earth did he pick a Friday night to walk me to the hostel? Is he really in love with me? Can Chioma’s assumptions possibly be right? What should I tell him if he asks me out?
Dupe kept thinking. She knew if she continued to think she would not achieve anything that night. Her heart became a racer on the field; she bowed her head and whispered a prayer to God. She tried to read after that, but she could not. She stole a glance at Chioma, and surprisingly, Chioma was staring at her. Dupe smiled and looked back at the quadratic equation in front of her and wondered why x was equal to y.

CHIOMA KEPT STARING at Dupe even after Dupe caught her; hatred welling up in her heart. She thought of the evil plan she had been trying to hatch and how this new development would help her with her plan. A pang of jealousy went through her chest, and she felt her eyes get watery.
How will I ever measure up to Dupe? Look at all the good things happening to her. Am I not pretty enough for Pastor Tunde. Why did he pick Dupe? Nobody likes me, nothing good happens to me. I hate Dupe.
She blinked back the tears and renewed her resolve to hurt Dupe by all means.

WHEN THE BELL rang, signifying the time for fatigue, Dupe almost jumped out of the window. She actually pictured herself doing that and running down to the hostel, screaming for her mama and hiding under her bed. She laughed at herself and wondered why she was overreacting. She stood up from her seat, signaled to Chioma, and then she went round all the classrooms to ensure that they were cleaning up. She passed Tunde’s class and caught his eye; she smiled and quickly looked away.
She saw the head boy punishing some junior students and went to him.
“Wassup Timi!” She greeted him
“I’m cool and you?” Timi asked in response.
“Good.” She said, and then added. “What have these ones done this time?”
“I got a report that they always escape during class fatigue, so today, I decided to play the owner. You know, everyday for the thief, one day for the owner, today is my day” He said with a grin on his face and a tone of triumph.
“Alright, knock yourself out” Dupe replied as she started walking away.
The head boy, Timi was a tall, dark, and slim boy. He was what girls would call Drop-Dead-gorgeous. He had this dazzling smile that could melt any heart. He was also a very intelligent person and the best student in all of SS3. Now, who would not love someone like that?
The bad thing was that he was very proud and had a bad case of superiority complex. He liked to show people that he had power to do as he wished and that he was very smart. He had asked Dupe out once, but she turned him down without even giving it a thought. She could not stand his pride. He never did give up, especially when she was made the Head Girl and he, the Head Boy. He never ceased to remind her that they were a perfect match.
“Dupe, please wait a second” Timi called out to her.
Dupe stopped and turned towards him.
“Please can I walk you to the hostel tonight? He asked “I have stuff I need to discuss with you”
“I’m sorry, someone is already walking me” Dupe replied
“And who will that be?” He asked with a frown
“Someone that is not important to you” Dupe said sternly
“You do not need to hide it from me Dupe, you know how Friday nights are, I will definitely get to know” Timi said moving closer to her “If I can’t have you my dear, nobody will” He smiled cunningly “I always get whatever I want you know”
“This target”, she said pointing at herself, “is unreachable.” Dupe said and walked away.
She was fuming as she walked away from him. She paused before she got class. She wondered why he always got her so angry and why he had to be so egocentric. He could easily be a loveable person if he could just get his eyes off himself and be humble. She took a deep breath and started walking again.
Just then, the bell rang for students to begin to return to their hostel. Dupe’s heart started a 1000meters dash. She saw junior students running towards the hostel as they usually did either to fetch a senior’s bucket of water, iron a senior’s cloth or just hide before seniors got to the hostel. She entered her class and met Chioma seating on her seat.
“Wassup girl?” Dupe asked nervously
“Are you really going to walk with Pastor Tunde tonight?” Chioma asked. “Think about this very well Dupe, do you know what people will say?”
“Chic, it’s alright” Dupe said putting her hand on Chioma’s shoulder. “You know people will always talk no matter what.” Dupe said, but that was not what was on her mind, she said that to calm Chioma who was looking so concerned.
“So, I will be walking alone tonight again” Chioma said sadly
“It’s not as bad as you are making it look Chic, you will find someone to walk with” Dupe said smiling.
“But definitely not a guy, guys never walk with me” Chioma said bowing her head.
Dupe was shocked; she never thought Chioma felt that way. Before she could say anything, Pastor Tunde came around.
“We will talk about this later” Dupe said picking up her bag.
Chioma picked her bag and quietly walked out of the class.
“What is wrong with her?” Tunde asked with a frown on his face.
“Never mind, she will be fine. Let’s go please.”
As they stepped out of the class and walked down the corridor of the SS3 block, Dupe could feel eyes staring at them. She forced herself not to search for the eyes; she held her breath as they walked. As soon as she reached the end of the corridor, she let out a long breath and turned to Tunde.
“So, what is so important that you must discuss with me tonight?”
“I had a terrible dream about you and I felt led in my spirit to tell you about it immediately. He paused to let that sink. “I know the dangers of walking with you tonight, but I just had to warn you”.
Dupe sighed. She was surprised that she felt disappointed. Wasn’t this what she was expecting him to discuss with her; fellowship, brotherly stuff? Why then did she feel so disappointed?
“What was the dream about?” she finally asked
Tunde told her the dream, leaving out no detail. By the time he finished, they were in front of the female hostel. They stopped and faced each other.
“Please, be very careful and prayerful. Be careful what you do and say to people around you.” Tunde said.
“It’s ok! I have heard what you said. Thank you so much for your concern, I really appreciate it. I would not mind your prayers too”, she said, smiling.
Just then, Timi passed and cleared his throat loudly. He looked at Dupe and then at Tunde.
“Do you have a problem with him?” Tunde asked
“Ignore him please, he is just being naughty. As I was saying, I will be careful. God bless you and thanks for taking this risk for me” She smiled. “I hope we will not be seeing comic drawings of our faces as the newest couple in school on all the billboards by tomorrow morning”
Tunde started laughing. “Won’t that be wonderful? Pastor and Choir leader! What a scandal!”
They both started laughing. It felt good to laugh after such a serious message had been delivered. Tunde felt at ease whenever he was around Dupe. He wondered why. It made him want to rethink his resolve he made about women some years back. He stopped laughing when he thought about it.
“What is the matter?” Dupe asked
“Nothing, I really need to get going. My regards to Chioma, please tell her I am sorry for stealing you away tonight” Tunde said.
“It’s okay, she will understand. Thanks again. Goodnight”.
With that, they parted.

DUPE WAS SO engrossed and lost in thought as she entered the female hostel. She did not notice Temi staring at her with jealousy in her eyes. Temi’s eyes followed Dupe as she entered the hostel. She had been hearing little gossips here and there about Dupe and Pastor Tunde, but did not want to believe it. She liked Pastor Tunde and wanted him all to herself, she was so glad when she was made his vice president in the fellowship. Although, Pastor Tunde had not noticed her, she knew it was just a matter of time. But when Chioma came to her during class fatigue and told her that Pastor Tunde would be walking Dupe to the hostel, she did not know what to think again.
At first, she did not want to believe Chioma because after all, she was Dupe’s best friend, but on a second thought, she went to ask him if she could discuss an important issue with him that night on their way to the hostel, but he declined saying he had an appointment with someone else. Now before her very eyes was Dupe leaving Pastor Tunde after laughing and talking about something that obviously tickled them. Temi was sad. She knew that as the Vice President of the fellowship, there were some certain things that she should not be caught doing, or should not even do, even aside that, she did not want to disappoint God. But she was human and had emotions. What was she to do about her emotions? Should she bottle them up and die inside or tell somebody about what she is feeling, or even fight back? She turned and went to her hostel, with a final resolve. She wanted to fight back.

Novella: Personal Demons by Temi Ojo (Chapter 3)

“THE WORLD IS coming to an end they say. They shout ‘repent, stop doing bad things, and do not follow the ways of the world.’” The voice continued. “Well, who are they to judge who is good and who is bad?”
Tunde stepped into the room just as the last statement was uttered. He looked at the person speaking and saw that it was Amos, an atheist. He did not believe in God and did not like those that believed. He hated the term born-again and never seized to mock those that were born-again. Tunde knew it was not by chance that he was in the same room with Amos and never seized to pray for him.
“These people do the very things they warn others not to do, who then shall we believe? Like I always say, there is no God, we humans make the rules.” Amos concluded his speech looking at Tunde.
The other guys in the room followed Amos’ eye and stared at Tunde too. They already knew he had walked Dupe that night. He was not surprised at all. Tunde knew they were waiting for him to make a speech, but he resisted the temptation to do so; he had learnt in his little walk with God that God can and will always defend himself. He is more than able to prove Himself to anyone. He did it so many times in the bible, this time is no different. Tunde had also learnt that exchanging words with such people would only lead to a quarrel and will bring no edification.
So, instead of giving into the temptation to defend God which was foolish, he took a wise decision and went on his knees. He prayed for the protection of God on Dupe, he prayed for the comfort of God for Chioma who looked disturbed that night and he prayed for the revelation of God in the life of Amos and finally asked God to strengthen him. As he got up from his knees, the bell rang for lights out. Tunde took off his cloths and lay down on his bed; he only hoped he had not taken a wrong decision in walking Dupe to the hostel that night. He felt peace in his heart and knew that God was in control.

AMOS WAS VERY angry that Tunde did not argue with him. He wanted them to get into an argument about God and His existence. Not that he did not believe that there was a God, he did believe that there was God but did not believe that God cared. If he did, why then would a loving God that cares for everyone allow bad things happen to people. He liked to argue with the so called born-again fellows because he wanted answers. He had been seeking answers after the terrible tragedy that happened to him as a little boy. Ever since then, he had wondered if truly God cared.
He sat on his bed angry and willing himself not to go and make Tunde argue with him and give him the answers he wanted. He knew Tunde had the answers because ever since they became roommates, he had been watching him and once in a while, he went to church and listened to Tunde preach, but he did not have the courage to meet Tunde one on one and ask him. Over the years, after the tragedy, he had built a wall around himself and an image of a strong boy when truly, he just wanted to break down and cry and ask God why life had been so cruel to him. Amos lay down on his bed silently, determining in his mind not to give up.

CHIOMA SAT ON her bed listening to the empty banter of her roommates as they discussed the events of the night which was a usual thing at the end of every Friday night. They would discuss about every couple they had seen walking together to the hostel. It was usually a time to update themselves on which couple was still together, which couple had broken up and if they were seeing other persons and the newest couple that emerged. Chioma heard Dupe and Pastor Tunde’s name.
“Did you see Pastor Tunde and Dupe tonight?” One girl asked wide eyed
“Yes oh! I was so shocked. Who would have thought the Pastor and the Choir leader will have such a thing in mind.” The second girl replied.
“I do not think it’s anything serious girls; maybe they had some fellowship issues to discuss. I heard that a big worship program is coming up soon, maybe that is what they were discussing” another girl said.
“Then why pick a Friday night?”
They kept discussing about the issue, praising and admiring Dupe for her beauty and intelligence adding that they do not blame the Pastor for falling for her. The girls soon moved to another couple who apparently had broken up. Chioma’s mind blanked out of their discussion and for a moment she felt a pang of guilt in her heart for what she did that night. She had gone to Temi’s class when Dupe went out to do her rounds during the cleaning up and told Temi that Pastor Tunde was planning on walking Dupe to the hostel that night. Chioma saw raw anger and jealousy in Temi’s eyes and she had felt content at that time, but now, she felt guilty.
She had betrayed her friend; her best friend. Then again, she convinced herself that Dupe had also betrayed her trust and needed to pay for it. Chioma resolved in her mind to do anything that would make Dupe pay and then she would tear down the high and mighty image Dupe had. After all, she had started and there was no need to chicken out. She lay down on her bed as she thought of another thing she could do to hurt Dupe.

AS SOON AS Dupe entered her room, she locked her door and went on her knees, all thoughts in her head were secondary, even the appointment she had with Vivian. All that mattered to her at the moment was the dream Tunde told her. As soon as her knees touched the ground, she started crying. The tears became sobs as she recalled every detail of the dream. For the first five minutes, she just kept crying, she could not find the words to say to God. She remembered that her mum had told her once that its not only our words that God can hear, He hears every silent prayer we pray in laughter, tears, frowns, sad faces or even smiles; He knows our thoughts. As she was crying, she heard a knock on her door but that did not matter, she went on crying. When she could finally speak, with a heavy heart, she prayed against the spirit of shame and asked God for a sensitive spirit. After saying those few words, the tears started again as the weight of the dream hit her. She kept crying on her knees until she heard the bell for lights out. She stood up, changed into her pajamas and coiled on her bed.
Just before she drifted into sleep, she heard a whisper in her heart. I am with you always. Dupe smiled, curving her tear-stained face, as she slept off.

VIVIAN LAY ON her bed and allowed her thoughts to drift into the events of the day. A certain tall beautiful soft eyed girl dominated her thoughts; her voice, her smile. Vivian felt a certain warmth in her as she allowed the thoughts to linger. She recalled as Dupe summoned her to her table before dinner, how she held her hand and led her outside to talk with her. Vivian had felt a little shy, but she had also felt the warmth and peace radiating from Dupe as she spoke to her. There had been something deep and sincere in Dupe’s eyes as she spoke to Vivian, a sincerity and peace so deep that had made it difficult for Vivian to look into her eyes. It was that warmth and peace that had made Vivian go looking for Dupe after class fatigue, she wanted more. Unfortunately, she had knocked on Dupe’s door but no one answered her. She knew someone was inside because she could hear a voice in the room. She was so disappointed because she had wanted to feel that warmth and peace again.
Vivian let her mind drift to the last time she felt such warmth. She had been five years old. She remembered it all vividly. She would sit on her mother’s laps, smiling and laughing with her. Her mum would tickle her all over and she would throw her head back laughing really hard, her mum would hold her from tumbling down to the floor.
She sighed as she remembered. Things had gotten bad when she got admitted into Balm of Gilead and could not make good grades. No matter how much she tried, her grades were always bad. It was then she saw her mum transform from a loving mother to a terror; she kept asking herself where her real mother had gone.
“Vivian, can’t you do anything right? Your grades are as bad as ever. Try to be like your sister, she makes such wonderful grades and she is in the same school with you. What is wrong with you?” Those were are mother’s usual words.
More tears flooded her eyes as she let the voice of her mum replay in her mind. That was when she took her Junior WAEC result home. Her result was so bad; she knew it was only a miracle that she was allowed into SS1, though on probation. If she didn’t improve after her 1st term in SS1, she would have to go back to JSS3. This made her so scared. She had run away from her mother as she spoke those words and cried so hard in her room that day with no one to console her. She really wanted to please her mum and dad. She tried real hard but she just never succeeded.
Vivian allowed the tears to flow unto her pillow as that memory faded again. How would she please her mum and make her laugh with her again? Or even get her dad’s attention; make him look at her with those eyes of pride he looks at her elder sister with. Vivian remembered Dupe again and longed for more of the warmth and peace she felt around her. She held her pillow tight and drifted to sleep as she resolved to go for more.

IT WAS SATURDAY morning and all the students were busy cleaning up their surroundings for inspection. Dupe was in her room arranging her room and thinking of Chioma and what had transpired between them the night before.
“…guys never walk with me”
Dupe thought about that statement and thought back to all the Friday nights that had passed since her and Chioma became friends. She suddenly realized that what Chioma said was true. Majority of those nights, its either a guy steals her away from Chioma or both of them walk together on days when guys do not come for her, but never has any guy come for Chioma. Dupe suddenly started feeling really bad and thought about what she could do to encourage her friend. She quickly finished up her cleaning and set out to find Chioma.
Balm of Gilead had four major houses; Joy (Yellow), Peace (Blue), Love (Red) and Hope (Green) house. Chioma was in red house and it was not really far from Dupe’s room. Dupe locked her door and strolled to Chioma’s room. When she entered the room, she saw a group of SS3 girls in a circle gisting and laughing. Chioma was backing her so she signaled to the other girls not to let Chioma know she was around. She tiptoed to Chioma’s back and covered her eyes with her hands.
“Guess Who?” Dupe whispered into Chioma’s ear.
“Dupe, I know your voice even from a distance” Chioma said removing Dupe’s hand from her face.
“Whatever” Dupe said laughing.
“Wassup girls!” Dupe said
The other girls greeted Dupe and they all exchanged pleasantries and talked a little about things happening in school. Dupe and Chioma excused themselves and went to Chioma’s bed. At first, none of them said anything; they just stared at their legs.
“How was your night?” Dupe said, breaking the silence.
“It was okay” Chioma replied, still looking at her legs.
“What happened to you yesterday night?”Dupe asked directly
“As in? I don’t understand”
“That statement you made before Pastor Tunde came to class”
“What statement?” She said, pausing to think. “That guys never walk me to the hostel? Tell me Dupe, isn’t it true? Have you ever seen any guy around me? It’s always you they come for.”
Obviously, Chioma had been thinking about it a lot because she was so prompt with her response, Dupe could tell.
“I’m so sorry Chioma; I never realized that you felt this way. I promise you that henceforth, I will always walk with you to the hostel every Friday and even if he guy comes to meet me, I will turn him down”. Dupe said sincerely.
“Never mind Dupe, it’s not your fault that you are prettier than I am”
Chioma, please do not talk like that, you are as pretty as I am. Have you forgotten that we are fearfully and wonderfully made?”
“Dupe abeg. Can we change the topic?”
Dupe decided not to push the issue any further; obviously, it was not a good time to discuss it. She made a mental note to pray for Chioma in that area.
“Give me gist about yourself and Pastor Tunde jare! How did he toast you and what did you tell him?” Chioma changed the topic suddenly.
“Aha aha, Chiquito. Which one should I answer first? He did not toast me by the way. I told you it was fellowship brotherly love stuff he wanted to discuss with me. He had a dream about me, he decided to warn me and encourage me to pray.”
“Hmmm, na wa o! That is how it starts. Very soon, he will say he had a dream that God told him that you are his wife to be” Chioma said lifting her nose.
“Chic please, don’t say that. I bet that has never crossed Pastor Tunde’s mind before. He seems so uptight and spiritual around girls, even the Temi that he always walks around with”, Dupe said.
“It’s alright! Like I always say dear, time will tell.” Chioma said touching the tip of Dupe’s nose.
“Whatever girl! I mean what I said about Friday nights sha! I will keep my promise ok!” Dupe said smiling
Chioma nodded. They discussed a few more issues and Dupe left to prepare for inspection. On her way, she passed by Peace House which was Vivian’s house. Vivian spotted her and ran to her immediately. She explained to Dupe how she had come to look for her after class fatigue. Dupe apologized and fixed a meeting with her after inspection.

ELDER MRS GIFTIE Ayobami, the Principal of Balm of Gilead Secondary School conducted the inspection herself with the two senior prefects and the labour prefect. Sometimes, she delegated teachers to conduct the inspection with the prefects. The inspection in the girls hostel always went well, it was that of the male hostel that Dupe always looked forward to because there was always something to laugh about. They were not disappointed at all.
The Principal saw a junior student without socks and sandals standing by his bedside. When she questioned him, he went into a dramatic description of how a bush baby had tiptoed to his bedside the previous night and taken his socks and sandals. Everyone was in peals of laughter by the time he finished, including the principal. Surprisingly, the principal just walked past the boy laughing and went to the next hostel; the boy must have really felt good, though Dupe was sure that the prefects in that hostel would punish the boy.
After the inspection, Dupe and Ayo; the labour prefect waited for the principal to convey them back to the girl’s hostel which was quite a distance from the male hostel. As they were waiting by the car, Timi walked towards Dupe.
“I saw you yesterday night Dupe”, he whispered into her ear
“Isn’t that rather obvious?” Dupe asked irritated.
“Is that the person you are rejecting me for?” He asked with a mock smile on his face. He does not even have half of what I have Dupe. I mean, I’m smart, rich and very popular, what else do you want?”
Dupe could feel the anger welling up inside her. She looked at him and thought of what to say to him that would make him see how unreasonable he is. She saw the principal walking towards the car and knew it was time to go.
“There is one thing you do not have dearest Timi” She said quickly.
“And what would that be dearest Dupe” Timi said with a smile.
“You lack character! Go learn it.”
The Principal got to the car just then and Dupe used that opportunity to escape. She quickly entered the car before Timi could respond. As the Principal drove away, she looked out the window and saw Timi staring at her with shock and raw anger in his eyes. She smiled and settled in the car.
The principal drove the girls down to the girl’s hostel, laughing as they recalled the event at the boy’s hostel. They also recalled other funny events that had happened during past inspections and kept laughing until she dropped them off. Dupe and Ayo parted still laughing.

Novella: Personal Demons by Temi Ojo (Chapter 4)

AS SOON AS Dupe got to the door of her room, she met Vivian waiting for her and so were buckets of water. She said a silent prayer for the wonderful school daughters and faithful juniors God had blessed her with who kept her buckets full.
“Hello sweetie, I hope you have not been waiting for long?” Dupe said while she was opening her door.
“Nope, I just got here” Vivian said smiling
“Thank you Jesus” Dupe said as she entered her room.
“You have a lovely room; I hope one day I will have a room like this”
“Thanks dear, then you will have to be the Girl’s Senior Prefect” Dupe replied
“In my wildest dream” Vivian muttered under her breath
Dupe heard but decided not to say anything. She went to her laundry basket and poured out her cloths, and then she pulled off the uniform she used for the inspection and added it to the cloths.
“Hope you don’t mind talking with me as I do my laundry?” she asked Vivian.
“Nope, I don’t even mind washing for you”
“Far from that my dear. The only thing I allow people do for me is to fetch water, and I have faithful juniors that do that for me”
Dupe carried her cloths to the drainage system beside her room and then carried her reading chair and a small stool; Vivian sat on the reading chair. When Dupe finally settled down and started washing, she looked at Vivian.
“So dear, tell me about yourself”
“That is a rather broad question” Vivian said smiling
“Alright then, I will break it down for you. How old are you?”
“I3 years old”
“How many are you in your family and what is your position?”
“We are three and I am the last child”
“Hmm. I’m not surprised, you look like the last born” Dupe said smiling. “So which of them are you closer to? You look like a mummy’s girl.”
That was a touchy subject for Vivain, she bowed her head and did not respond for a while. Dupe looked up from her washing and saw what was happening.
“Is it something I said sweetheart?”
Vivian looked up. “I used to be very close to my mum, but when I got admission into secondary school, I could not have good grades and things went bad” Vivian said with tears in her eyes.
Dupe could see the pain in Vivian’s eyes, she knew she had touched a very sensitive part of the girls’ heart.
“Do you know what attracted me to you? On Friday afternoon, during lunch, I was looking at you from my table; you were picking your food and looking very gloomy. I decided to speak with you that afternoon, but could not” Dupe said.
“We had a Mathematics test and I knew I didn’t write anything. I hate that subject! I just never seem to understand it. I was promoted on probation and I was thinking of how I will scale through”. She paused. “My siblings are doing very well in school and my mum keeps talking down at me each time I go home with my result. She always compares me with my sister who was in this school and usually had wonderful grades and bagged a lot of awards.”
“Don’t tell me you are sister to Ifeoma Nwadu?”
Vivian nodded.
“She was a genius” Dupe said, wide eyed
Vivian flinched on her chair as Dupe said all that. Dupe was immediately sorry for what she just said, she dropped the cloth she was washing and looked sorry.
“I’m so sorry dear, I wasn’t thinking and I shouldn’t have said that.” Dupe said
“It’s okay. I hear that very often. Even teachers never allow me rest. If I fail to answer a question in class or fail in a test, they would say ‘why can’t you be like your sister?’”. Tears flowed down Vivian’s face
Dupe dried her hands, stood up and led Vivian into her room. Dupe pulled her into her arms and Vivian started sobbing heavily and Dupe just kept patting her on the back. After a while, Vivian stopped crying. Dupe led her to her bed to seat down.
“I have tried so hard to make my grades better, just to match up to my sister, but it seems like it just gets worse! I know I can never match up to her and my mum will never love me again. I hate going home with my result and hear my mum compare me with my sister and talk down at me”. Vivian wiped the tears on her cheeks. “Now, I just hate my sister so much. Each time I see her, I just want to make her disappear. Maybe then, my mum would love me again. She has stolen everything from me; she’s prettier, more intelligent, and more special. Even when decisions are to be made at home, nobody asks for my opinion, because of her, I’m totally left out and forgotten like trash”. She covered her face with her hands and started crying again.
“What about your dad?” Dupe asked.
“It’s obvious that he prefers my sister, he does not talk down at me like my mum but it shows in his actions that Ify is his beloved daughter.”
Vivian continued crying and it got Dupe worried. She gently laid the girl on her bed and placed her hand on Vivian’s shoulder.
“Do you know that sometimes Ifeoma talks down at me too? I used to admire her and want to be like her before, but now, I hate her so much. I hate everyone at home, even my mum. They all hurt me so much with their words. I don’t know what to do anymore. Senior Dupe, I don’t know.” Vivian started crying again.
It was obvious that Vivian had bottled up all these emotions in her heart for a very long time. Dupe allowed her to say everything without interrupting her, she knew what Vivian really needed was someone that would listen and Dupe wanted to be that person. Dupe kept patting her until she was silent. She looked at Vivian and discovered that she was asleep. Dupe was glad, at least it would help her cool off. She quietly left the room and returned to her laundry.
As she continued washing, Dupe thought about all that Vivian had told her. She felt really sorry for her. She tried to imagine having to fight for the attention and love of her parents; she thanked God that she didn’t have to, she could just imagine what Vivian was going through.
“Lord! What am I supposed to tell this hurting child?” Dupe said to herself “Why bring her to me lord? I am not the perfect person to give her advice, why not Temi or Pastor Tunde?”
Dupe still had it somewhere in her mind that she struggled with masturbation and this made her feel incompetent in many ways. The dream Pastor Tunde told her came to her mind again and she wondered if this was what would bring her shame and disgrace. The mere thought of it made Dupe have goose bumps all over her body. Dupe kept praying in her heart as she was washing. She was certain that God could not have drawn her attention to Vivian for nothing, there had to be a purpose for it. A thought struck her suddenly; was Vivian Born again?
As Dupe was spreading her cloths on the line, the Holy Spirit whispered a scripture to her, she hurriedly spread the remaining cloths, cleaned up the area she washed, packed the buckets together and quietly entered her room to avoid waking Vivian. She picked up her bible and opened to 2Cor 11:30. It read “But if I must brag, I would rather brag about the things that show how weak I am”. Dupe was surprised that the scripture was directed at her. She opened to 2Cor 12: 6-10 also and was amazed that it was also directed to her. She felt warmed all over her body. She was praying for Vivian but God decided to deal with her first. Dupe was flushed.
She went on her knees and thanked God for his mercies and grace on her life, and like Paul, she thanked him for the weakness and affliction in her life and asked God for the grace to use it to bring glory to His name. She thanked God for humbling her and asked Him to be her greatest strength in her weakness and to work through her weakness. Dupe knew God needed her to understand this before she could freely allow Him use her to be a blessing to Vivian which she knew she would not be able to do if she kept feeling incompetent.
When Dupe finished praying, she looked at her wrist watch, it would be time for lunch in thirty minuites. She looked at Vivian’s peaceful face as she slept, no one would ever know she was troubled. Dupe regretted having to wake her up, back into the real world, but she woke her up anyway.
“How long have I been sleeping?” Vivian asked stretching herself on the bed.
“Not too long. You need to go and prepare for lunch. We will continue our talk after lunch, okay?”
“Okay. Thank you Senior Dupe” Vivian left the room, yawning.
As soon as Vivian left, Dupe hurried to the bathroom to take a shower and then hurriedly dressed up for lunch.

THE STUDENTS WERE served Lafun with egusi soup for lunch, not everyone was happy about the meal, but hunger made them eat it all the same. To Dupe’s dismay, she sat directly in front of Timi during lunch, he did not greet her or tease her as he usually did and Dupe felt really bad and hoped she had not been too harsh on him that afternoon. He may be a pest, but she knew she still had to apologize to him because they still had to work together to run the school and she knew Jesus would have done the same if He were to be in her shoes.
Immediately after the prayer, she went to meet him.
“Hi Timi” She said smiling
Timi looked at her without saying anything, as if he was thinking of a good reason why he should talk to her after her remark to him earlier that afternoon.
“Hi” he finally said and immediately started walking away. Dupe held him and he stopped in his tracks.
“Timi, I’m really sorry for what I said to you earlier today”. Dupe said carefully. I shouldn’t have said that, who am I to be the judge of other people’s character? Timi, please forgive me”, she said with pleading eyes.
Timi looked at her and could not resist her pleading eyes. Besides, he really liked Dupe and kept wondering why she kept rejecting him. When she said he lacked character, Timi had felt really hurt and angry but was glad no one had heard her. She had hurt his male ego badly and he had nurtured the thought of paying her back but all that melted as he looked at her pleading eyes. He decided to let the statement go but not his resolve to date her by all means. After all, he always got whatever his heart desired.
“It’s alright Dupe, I forgive you. How can I resist a beauty like you, I just wonder why you don’t want to give me a chance.”
Dupe just smiled and extended her right hand to him. “Friends?” She asked smiling
“Friends” Timi said taking her hand. “I am not letting you go Dupe, you will be mine my darling” He added, her hand still in his.
Dupe pulled her hand away; she smiled at him and walked away. She felt good having apologized to Timi. She remembered Vivian and hurried to her room. Vivian was already waiting for her at the door.
“Hi girl! How are you feeling now?” Dupe asked, smiling.
“Better, I guess” Vivian replied.
“That’s a good start” Dupe said as she opened her door. They both entered the room and Vivian sat on her bed. Dupe pulled her reading chair to the front of Vivian and sat down.
“I need to ascertain something before we move on dear, are you born again? Do you know Jesus and does He know you? Dupe asked.
“Yes, I am born again” Vivian replied
“Ok, tell me what you know about God”
Vivian looked at the roof and thought for a while. “ He is the creator of heaven and earth and He sent His only begotten son to die for the sins of the world so that one day, He can return and take all those who believe to live with Him in heaven for all eternity” She finished, smiling.
“Is that all you know about God?” Dupe asked a little surprised
“Well, that is basically the picture I have of Him” Vivian replied
“Let me ask you something, if you knew the president loves you and will do anything for you, how would that make you feel and what will you do with this knowledge?” Dupe asked
“Well, that would just be awesome. I would brag about it to everyone who cares to listen and it would give me an assurance that I can have anything I want, anytime I want it, and not just anything, but the best things in life” Vivian said, smiling.
“That’s good. Have you ever thought of the fact that God loves you?” Dupe asked rhetorically. “God is much greater than the president. The bible says the cattle upon a thousand hills belong to Him. He speaks and the whole earth trembles. All power belongs to Him; He knows all things from the beginning to the end. He is the Alpha and Omega. Yet, He looks at mere humans like us and declares that ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love’. That love cost Him His only begotten son. He did not spare His son, He sent him to die for the sins of mankind and He has given us power, authority and dominion over the whole earth. That is God, and this same God loves you, Vivian.
“Vivian bowed her head. Imagine if a man you have never met before steps in front of you just before a bullet hits you and takes the bullet for you without even the slightest warning and then you run to him and ask him why he did it, and he tells you because he loves you, what would you do? That is what Jesus did for you dear; He died in your place. He had never met you before, He did not care whether you were rich or poor, beautiful or ugly, tall or short, He didn’t care whether you made good grades or not, He did not care. He just loved you and that love made him die in your place. And He still loves you.”
Dupe paused to see Vivian’s reaction and to allow all that she had said to sink into her heart. Vivian’s head was bowed and Dupe prayed silently in her heart that the Holy Spirit would work in Vivian’s heart and make her understand the depth of God’s love for her.
“Vivian, this is a perfect love God is offering you today. You don’t need to hang on or seek a love that depends on how successful you are in your education or in life, all that does not matter to Jesus; He loves you just the way you are and He wants you to come to Him just the way you are, no matter how broken you are. He loves you just the same. Many Christians have not accepted this love because they do not fully understand what it means for God to say that He loves us and many of them do not see themselves as being loveable. You must see yourself as being loveable, Vivian.”
Dupe took Vivian’s hands. “Vivian, look at me” Vivian raised her head, her eyes were crystal with tears. “Yes Vivian, Jesus loves you, even you” Dupe said.
Vivian could not hold her tears anymore; she was so overwhelmed. The Holy Spirit had started working in her, convicting her. Vivian kept saying ‘Jesus loves me. God loves me’ to herself. She found it hard to believe that a God so big and wonderful would love her so much.
“Yes Vivian, God loves you so much, even you. Let it sink into your heart my dear, let His love wash over you, let it envelop you, let Him hug you.”
Vivian was crying uncontrollably, shaking all over. The shaking and tears drove her to her knees; Dupe joined her and hugged her. She kept crying as Dupe hugged her and rocked her. When she stopped crying, Dupe held her hands and prayed for her, asking God to strengthen her and take her deep into the rivers of His love.
Chioma came in and saw what was happening; she quietly left the room immediately. Dupe concluded her prayer and hugged Vivian before they got up from their knees.
“Thank you very much Senior Dupe, I will never forget the kindness and love you have showed me today. God bless you.” Vivian said.
“Thank God dear. Please don’t hesitate to come to me every time you need someone to talk to. Okay?” Dupe said, smiling
Vivian nodded and smiled. She hugged Dupe again and left the room. As soon as she left, Chioma came in. “What was that all about?” She asked Dupe
“Someone just discovered just how much God loves her” Dupe replied smiling.
“And when did you become a counselor, Dupe?” Chioma asked
“All glory to God dear, I only made myself available for God.”
“Whatever! It’s almost time for choir rehearsal. We are going to be late.” Chioma said changing the topic.
Dupe looked at her watch and jumped from her bed. She ran to the ladies to ease herself and then back to the room to prepare for choir rehearsal.
As Dupe was preparing, Chioma sat on her bed and kept staring at her. She felt anger and hot jealousy almost twisting her heart. No one had ever come to her for advice before and she doubted if anyone even looked up to her. She shut her eyes as tears threatened to drop.

Novella: Personal Demons by Temi Ojo (Chapter 5)

VIVIAN HURRIED TO her hostel; she could feel the tears of many years of pain, hatred and bitterness welling up inside her. When she got to the door of her room, she told a junior to help her check if Senior Jumoke, her bunkmate, was in the room. Vivian did not want her around because she always had somewhere to send Vivian to and she did not need that distraction, all she wanted to do was go on her knees and cry out all the tears in her eyes. The junior came back with a positive response. Vivian ran straight to her bedside, knelt down and allowed the tears to flow.

CHOIR REHERSAL WENT well and Dupe was happy. She had taught them one of her favorite songs from Bob Fits; ‘You are so faithful’ and they sang it beautifully well. Dupe could just picture how Sunday would look like. She noticed that Chioma was so quiet through the rehearsal which was quite unusual. Lately, her friend had been acting weird and she was getting worried. As everyone dispersed after the rehearsal, Dupe went to meet Chioma.
“Hey girl! Did you enjoy the rehearsal?” Dupe asked.
“Yes I did, I like the song you taught us today, it had this particularly soothing thing about it” Chioma said.
“Thank God. I want to ask you something.”
“What will that be?” Chioma asked with a curious look.
“Are you okay dear? I mean, this weekend has really been weird, and I’m kind of worried that it has been getting to you somehow” Dupe said.
Chioma’s heart skipped a beat. Had things been that obvious? “Dupe, don’t worry, I’m fine. I’m just trying to sought somethings out, that’s all”
“You know you can always talk to me Chioma, we are best friends and I love you so much” Dupe said
Chioma was getting very uncomfortable with the discussion. “Dupe, I’m fine, seriously. There is nothing to worry about and I really appreciate our friendship and if I want to talk, I will come to you.” She said, smiling.
Dupe decided to leave the matter. If Chioma said she was fine, then there was really no need to keep pushing the issue. “Okay then, just remember that I’m always here for you.”
Chioma went the hostel while Dupe waited for Executive meeting which usually held after Choir rehearsal. When all the executives were complete, the meeting started with prayer which usually took a while because they had to pray for the church service the next day and the school as a whole. Gbenga, the general secretary started the meeting with the minutes of the last meeting. After all the formalities, they started planning for the service the next day. Everyone was given a responsibility for the service. When all the planning was over, Gbenga asked if anyone had anything to say. Temi cleared her throat and said she had something to say.
“It’s just a little observation I made that I want to talk about. I want us to understand that as Christians, the world is watching us, people are no longer interested in reading the bible, and they now read the lives of Christians. Therefore, we need to be careful in whatever we do, let us not give the world a chance to mock the God that we serve.” Temi paused and then looked at Dupe and Tunde. “That is all I have to say”
The other executives were nodding in agreement to her words, unaware of the motives behind them. Gbenga concluded the meeting by adding that as Christians they were the light of the world and were to use the light of God to draw people to the kingdom and not repel them. He said the closing prayer and everyone started returning to the hostel. As Dupe was walking away, she heard her name. She turned as saw Tunde coming towards her.
“Dupe, how are you?” he asked
“I’m doing fine, thank you”
“Hope you are not worrying yourself over what I discussed with you last night?”
“Nope, I have put it in God’s hands and I know He will take care of it for me” Dupe said, smiling.
They exchanged some more pleasantries and Dupe left. On her way, she met Temi and greeted her but Temi gave her a cold stare. That worried Dupe but she let it pass and excused the behavior on a bad day for Temi.
Tunde met Temi just as Dupe walked away. They started walking to the hostel together.
“So what did you want to discuss with me” Tunde asked.
“The last word I gave during the meeting was for you and Dupe”, she said.
“I guessed as much. What did we do? Does it have anything to do with last night?” Tunde asked
“Tunde, why did you pick a Friday night to walk Dupe to the hostel, what were you thinking? Don’t you know what that will do to your image in school as the president of the school fellowship?
Tunde remained silent and Temi was getting irritated.
“Can’t you say anything Tunde? Do you know what people were saying about you and Dupe yesterday night? Tunde say something” Temi said angrily.
“Temi, please tell me the part that is making you angry; is it the fact that people are talking or the fact that I walked Dupe to the hostel?” Tunde finally said. “I remember that I have walked you to the hostel on several Friday nights and you have never complained that people are talking or mocking God. I even remember that last night, you came to meet me and asked me to walk you to the hostel. So tell me Temi, what exactly is the problem? Are you jealous?”
“ What is that supposed to mean Tunde?” Temi said, stopping in her tracks. “That I am now trying to correct a fellow Christian is now a thing of jealousy? How could you say such a thing Tunde? Look, I am your vice president, people will not flinch at us walking together but they would with you and Dupe, can’t you see that?”
“Temi, it is the same thing. Dupe is my choir leader; she is also an executive” Tunde replied. “Temi,” he said, taking her hand. “I don’t want us to argue over this issue. I had a really terrible dream about Dupe and I had urgency in my spirit to talk to her about it last night. It’s not anything serious and there is nothing going on between the two of us. I know I took a very dangerous step, but I had to. You must understand that people will always talk, whether you are right or wrong. I promise to be careful in the future. Is that ok with you?” he asked, looking at her
Temi was lost in the feeling of her hand in his. She did not hear his question, but still nodded. They started walking towards the hostel again. Temi was lost in thought and the feeling of his hand still lingered. She wondered if she should tell him how she felt, but she was afraid of what he would think of her if she mentioned it. It was bad enough that he knew she was jealous of Dupe.
“I hope we are still friends?” Tunde asked bringing Temi back to reality.
“Yes we are. It’s just that I care so much about you…and the fellowship. I wouldn’t want anything that will cause students to run away from the church” Temi said, feeling silly and hoping he hadn’t deciphered the true intent of her first line.
She so liked him and she felt she would die if some other girl snatched him away. She wondered if she could hide her feelings any longer.

AFTER DINNER, AS Dupe and Chioma strolled to class for night prep, they were both silent and lost in thought. Dupe had looked back as she was returning to the hostel after the executive meeting and had seen Temi and Tunde arguing. They had stopped walking and Temi was looking really angry as she spoke to Tunde. It really bothered Dupe because she could not shake off the feeling that they were talking about her and it had everything to do with her walking with Tunde the previous night. She hoped she could find Tunde before the prep started to ask him.
Dupe looked in Chioma’s direction and wondered what she was thinking about. The weekend had been so weird and she could not blame Chioma for being lost in everything. First, she had masturbated, then Pastor Tunde had walked her to the hostel on a Friday night, then Chioma confessed that she was bothered that no guy ever walks with her and everything had happened so fast, and without warning. Dupe had the strangest feeling that this weekend was just the beginning of many events that would soon unfold. The thought of that made her shudder and the dream Tunde had about her came to her mind again.
She dreaded that her weakness would get the better of her and bring her public humiliation. As she thought about it, she shuddered again. It was more than she could handle. God, please don’t let it happen to me.

CHIOMA SAT ON her locker and stared at her books. All she could see was the image of Dupe and Vivian praying together. She tried to remember when anyone had ever come to her for advice or even looked up to her for anything, but her mind kept giving her the error sign. She began to wonder why she was Dupe’s friend if she was not benefiting anything from her. The only thing that had come out of their friendship was that people just identified her as Dupe’s friend and Dupe’s back up singer. Chioma became more angry and jealous, she decided that things had to change; she had to become popular, get an identity of her own and stop being under Dupe’s shadow. She had to have her own identity and it didn’t matter if Dupe was hurt in the process. She no longer cared.

…to be continued.